When Steve owned it, I was a paying member. I felt that paying made the site better because it was supporting him and in turn he was personally supporting the site and the community.
Also... I know I didn't pay 75 bucks to get the T-shirt. sounds silly, but if I could pay say 30 bucks to get a paying membership with a shirt I'd be much more willing to spend the dough. I know the shirts shouldn't cost more than 7 bucks each so there is plenty of profit to be had. When Steve was here, I don't know if he ran a special or what, but I ended up with a membership, T shirt, and coozie for a very reasonable price.
I was a paying member on Serious before the 'incident'
I am, and continue to be, a paying member of donzi.net.